Marvel ended their panels Friday at C2E2 with a bang, focusing on the upcoming event War of the Realms. It was moderated by Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski who was joined by Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder, Mighty Thor), Russell Dauterman (Mighty Thor), Matt Wilson (Mighty Thor, Conan the Barbarian), and series editors Wil Moss and Sarah Brunstad.
Cebulski kicked things off with reminding attendees that this year’s C2E2 was the 10th anniversary of the show, which drew a massive applause, and a generous show of hands when the Editor-in-Chief asked how many attended every show. He then announced that two lucky fans would be able to read War of the Realms #1 before anyone else if they guessed all of the ten realms in the Marvel Universe. One fan raised his hand and gave surprisingly detailed answers, with Jason Aaron keeping count. He was short one realm, but Aaron enthusiastically welcomed him up on the stage anyway. As a show of appreciation for the support of the fans, Cebulski and the team brought an exclusive C2E2 cover depicting Thor fighting frost giants in Chicago’s green river during St. Patrick’s Day. Cebulski admitted they were a bit late but they couldn’t resist. Every audience member would receive a copy of this cover at the end of the panel.
Cebulski introduced a video featuring multiple Marvel creators such as Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Tini Howard, Gerry Duggan, and Aaron himself attempting to name all of the aforementioned realms. The only one able to complete the list was none other than Aaron himself.
Aaron says that War of the Realms has been in the works for quite a well, since the beginning of his run seven years ago. In fact, he reveals later during the Q&A session that he had written the first issue of the event nearly eight months ago. When he first began his Thor run with Thor: God of Thunder, he didn’t know any of the realms at all, but wanted to take advantage of what makes the character of Thor unique. He has a very unique setting in that he can visit multiple realms and watch over them, and Aaron claims that his entire run on the character is basically a massive road trip as he explores how each realm operated, and what made them unique. At this point in the story, every realm other than our very own Midgard (Earth) has been taken over or affected significantly by Malekith and his Dark Elf army. The impetus of the event itself is that Asgard, as controlled by Malekith, invades Earth and begins with New York City, in typical Marvel fashion. The invasion brings in the Avengers, and they quickly realise that things may not be going their way. This is when they lose control and the invading forces begin expanding across the entire world.
Russell Dauterman interjects, adding that he and colourist Matt Wilson created their own aesthetic when they began working on Thor, and they were excited to adapt this aesthetic to use for every corner and character in the Marvel Universe. Dauterman wanted to keep every character distinct and clear since this is, as Cebulski puts it, a globe-spanning event.
Another video is introduced, this time featuring Jason Aaron and Ryan Penagos, host of “This Week in Marvel” and how they got a tattoo commemorating the release of War of the Realms. Aaron looks sullen; he was promised tacos.
Editors Wil Moss and Sarah Brunstad take over as they describe the multitude of event tie-in books rolling out over the next few weeks. Journey into Mystery, by the McElroys and Andre Lima Araujo, focuses on Thor’s little sister and how Balder is tasked with keeping her safe. In this journey, they are joined by such characters as Miles Morales, Kate Bishop, and Wonder Man as they travel across the planet and come across Skrulls, old western heroes, and many other wacky things as Moss promises.
Aaron is writing the Thor tie-in issues, with Mike Del Mundo providing artwork. The first issue of the event contains an apparently massive Loki moment and Thor #13 will deal with the ramifications of this, focusing entirely on Loki.
Another Aaron-penned series was discussed, War of the Realms: War Scrolls. It features Daredevil as he navigates this Asgardian invasion. Aaron is obviously incredibly excited about this as he hasn’t written Daredevil before. Andrea Sorrentino is joining him for the art, with Matt Wilson on colours. The pages below look truly wonderful and represent an evolution in Sorrentino’s style, as described by Cebulski. Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones reunite in this anthology series, returning to Howard the Duck. He’s still struggling with rent despite the invasion and he’s tasked with finding a lost dog.
Other tie-ins are introduced. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman are taking a short break from Venom while guest creative team Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello write and draw a three-issue tie-in. Matthew Rosenberg and Pere Perez bring the Uncanny X-Men into the fight, and Punisher breaks out a busload of prison inmates to help some innocents escape New York.
Cebulski introduces a final video. Much of the information has already been said save for a few bits. The team really wanted the event to tie into the wider Marvel Universe, even in terms of older stories. Cebulski was adamant in maintaining the grand tapestry that the fans love. Aaron continues, saying it’s interesting to have superheroes incorporate fantasy elements.
Cebulski opens the floor to any audience questions. The panel was asked about their favourite Thor stories, and the answers were quite varied. Dauterman begins and makes it clear that he isn’t trying to suck up, as he chooses the Godbomb story by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic in Thor: God of Thunder, which he claims is the most beautiful art he’s ever seen. Wilson was going to choose that as well but went with J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the character, which brought him back into reading comics. Brunstad expressed her love for Walt Simonson’s run on Thor and his Mangog stories which Aaron followed up on in his own run. Moss picked Jane Foster’s tenure as Thor, Simonson’s entire run, and Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery. Finally, Aaron himself picked the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Mangog stories.
A young woman began her question by thanking Marvel in general for giving her a character like Ms. Marvel. She asked Aaron what character he would like to tackle next. He said that he hasn’t talked about this yet, but his run on Thor will go on for a little while after War of the Realms is over. “It’s the beginning of the end of my Thor run”, as he put it. He’s thinking of what to do next but doesn’t want to divulge anything.
With that question, the panel wrapped up. There was a pulpable, real excitement in the air for this event and for the creative team. This was the first time I’ve seen Cebulski in person and he sure knows how to grab a room and to get them pumped for whatever he’s promoting.